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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I found the enclosed clipping from your column in a collection of favorite articles compiled by my late sister. I think its message to the elderly bears repeating. -- 80 AND HOLDING IN RIVER FOREST, ILL.

DEAR 80 AND HOLDING: Thank you for sending it to me. I agree, the rules are worth repeating. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When my husband's mother came to live with my husband and me 23 years ago, she made our lives so miserable I vowed I would never bring such misery to my children if I ever had to live with them. One day, I wrote myself a letter containing some rules. I put it in an envelope marked, "To be opened on the day I go to live with one of my children" -- then I put it away.

I've been widowed and self-sufficient for eight years, but I was recently forced to give up my job and move in with my daughter. I'm submitting that letter. Perhaps your older readers might benefit from it, as I intend to. Here are the rules:

-- Give what you can toward your keep. Any budget will stretch just so far.

-- Keep yourself clean and neat. Fresh undies and daily baths are a must.

-- Remember, it is their home. Give them privacy at every opportunity.

-- Try to make your own friends and develop interests outside the home.

-- If you suspect they would like to go away on a vacation but are hesitant because of you, offer to visit another relative or friend so they will be free to go.

-- Don't offer any advice or express any opinion on family matters unless asked.

-- Volunteer information that they might be too embarrassed to ask for, such as arrangements for your burial, hospitalization, etc.

These rules were written more than 22 years ago. I read them often and am determined to keep them. -- 76 AND HOLDING

DEAR ABBY: Three years ago, after 27 years of marriage, I went through a divorce. My husband had become involved with another woman and refused to break it off, so I really had no choice.

I have picked up the pieces of my life and put them back together little by little. I have not dated since my divorce. I needed this time to heal and to work on rebuilding my life. A shattered 27-year marriage is difficult to get over quickly.

There is a very nice man from a neighboring community who lost his wife to cancer about a year ago. We went to the same school and church. I know him and his family; however, I don't know if he is dating anyone. I'm almost sure he doesn't know that I am alone now.

Would it be OK for me to write him a note or give him a call? I know times have changed, but I don't want to appear too pushy. It's been 30 years since I have dated, but now that I'm alone, my thoughts keep drifting back to this man.

What do you think, Abby? -- YOUNG AT HEART

DEAR YOUNG: It would certainly be OK for you either to give him a call or send him a note. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I wish you well. Please keep me posted.

DEAR READERS: If you would like your letter published, please include your name, area code and telephone number.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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